‘Easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism’

Mon 8 – Sun 14 Feb 2021

This time of year is so bloody depressing. Obviously made worse this particular one by unemployment, pandemic, and lockdown. Plus freezing cold weather – colder than usual. Minus 23 in Scotland one night last week; I have no romantic attachment to cold weather. It’s my nightmare. Hell is not hot, it is cold and dark. And with all this awfulness, I am trying to imagine a different future and plan for better things but it is not easy.

Are we able to imagine a new future?

Answer: I’m not sure we know how to. Ultimately in shit times, all we have is hope and the ability to imagine. I am increasingly taken by the quotation from Mark Fisher that titles this blog. Don’t most people just want to shrug off the pandemic and go back to normal? But that might not be an option. Could it be that there is no path back to the normal we knew or at least not for several years.

Business models and ‘normality’ don’t always work

It really does feel that by setting everything in the context of business and financial value, so we can’t really go through the process of ‘imagine’ when the wider context has stopped working. Not having a job has definitely helped me see that. Most of the time we are in work and part of the rat race. By being part of that, we can’t see another way of living that is comfortable. And yet, here we are.

If society can’t operate as it did and the economy can’t recover quickly – what do we do? And isn’t it better perhaps if it isn’t functioning properly. We know that the environment can’t survive under the system we had. And do we really want to go back to some of the worst aspects of the old ways such as packed commuter trains, huge pay differentials, and plastic in everything?

Quotation by Camus

There’s a part of me that can imagine that I will never get another job. Almost certainly crap – something will come along eventually. That is what I have to cling to and stay optimistic.

Focusing

As planned in my previous blog (read it here), last week I focused on one job application rather than a wasteful scatter gun approach. The role I have gone for is a vacancy that I think has a lot of potential. The salary is not great and it is full-time – in an ideal world I would rather work about 3 or 3.5 days p.w. But perhaps I should simply imagine and focus on having a fulfilling and interesting job above all else.

Personal Development

Languages

I love my language learning. I want to imagine myself as multi-lingual. However, I am not making as much progress as I once was. Though the weekly feedback from Duolingo suggests, surprisingly, that I did more last week than the week before that which really was a low point. My main focus is German and Spanish for practical usage. Russian, Greek, and Polish because they are wonderfully alien to me. 🙂

Tech – disappointment

Still continuing with a couple of exercises each day on Free Code Camp – a highly recommended personal development tool. Also attended the Third Sector Tech Summit which I imagined would be full of new ideas and angles on the Tech for Good stuff I have been involved with for so long. But I was disappointed; I didn’t feel I was hearing anything new. 🙁

Primarily it seemed to be focused on the issues of working and delivering services from home. But we are talking about this so much in so many different places and I think we’ve really run out of new stuff to say. As I stated earlier, it seems to me that many people just want things to revert to as they were and don’t really want to imagine or create something different.

progress being made

I also wonder, generally, what is the point of a conference? I have attended hundreds and I don’t think any of them have changed my life. Perhaps the main point is simply to reinforce those who identify within a certain group so giving a sense of solidarity and camaraderie.

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run

My enemy last week was the cold. I had imagined I would brave the weather whatever it was to do my slow jog-runs. And I did get in one on Monday morning. It was snowing but didn’t seem as cold as it was to be later in the week. I was wrapped up in leggings, shorts, 3 upper tops, and a hat. The jog-run went really well – few people around in the cold and I got a nice slow pace of just under 7 mins per km. I even pushed the distance up slightly to 2.6 km.

lady going for jog-run in cold weather

Had planned to go out again on Thurs or Fri. But it was bitterly cold such that I didn’t feel motivated. Plus I had a lot of long walks planned. So I decided to leave till the weather improves next week. Perhaps I am a fair weather runner – so what?

Long walks and slipping over

The cold put me off my jog-runs but that same cold weather didn’t stop me making some long walks. Over the week I did four of them – an hour and a half each. All linked to walking between Dave’s place and mum’s place; me, Dave, and mum have formed a support bubble.

Walks went well – got me over 10,000 daily steps and burnt up lots of calories. Twas cold though, earlier in the week there was snow. However, the weekend walk was even colder with icy winds and I managed to slip arse over tit on some ice. Nothing hurt apart from my pride. 🙁

Weight

Weight scales

I queried in my previous blog about whether I just accept being over 13 stone or strive to get under that. To do the latter is a long held dream (though I did go down to 9 stone in my addiction days LOL). I can still imagine getting under 13 stone and if I can imagine it then I can do it.

And despite the cold which often makes you want to eat more, I managed to stay the same with my weight: 13 stone, 4.5 pounds. I think I am still on a long-term downward trend and am hopeful of losing more again in the near future.

Vaccinations

So Dave’s mum and my mum have had their vaccinations. It’s been +3 weeks for both of them so the vaccine should have taken effect. Meanwhile, Dave got contacted last week and had his done the next day. Only me to go now. 🙂

Books and Reading

Dr Who – Short Trips #2: Companions

Managed to finish a book last week as I outlined I hoped to do in my previous blog. And it was related to my love of Dr Who. Another set of short stories – volume 2 of the ‘Short Trips’ collection. Volume 1 was 12 stories each related to a sign of the Zodiac.

Volume 2 were stories about some of the Doctor’s companions. Mixed quality but, overall, great fun. It is nice when we imagine more about the lives of people we actually know little about. And flesh is added to the bones of their stories.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Art and Culture

European Cinema

Got back to some fun by watching a contemporary French queer film, ‘The Shiny Shrimps’. People heavily involved with sport often imagine that sport and commitment to it can solve every type of problem. It’s bullshit as problems are so much more complex that that. One only has to look at how many sports people suffer once their glory days are over.

But sport can be fun. This film was the story of a gay water-polo team trying to get to the Gay Games. Community sport is great though it is almost impossible to stop competition creeping in and the not so good performers being pushed out. It was like that with the gay football team I was in – The Brighton Bandits (we had an A Team and a B Team – think about it 🙂 ).

LGBT rainbow flag

A definite feel-good film perfect for these cold pandemic lockdown days. All about when people could get together to play games, dance, and have sex. A bit like ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ with some moments that made me laugh out loud. The horror of the straight coach in dealing with his gay team is hilarious.

‘Survivors’ and ‘It’s a Sin’

These two TV programmes are really in-tune with what I am feeling at the moment. The first, how people imagined life would be like after a major pandemic. The second, how we lived through the AIDS pandemic and widespread homophobia. Both grim but about survival and adaptation. These echo what I am thinking about and imagining at the moment: how do I survive and adapt; what can the future be like?

Sustainability

Downsizing – my side hustle

Funny how things develop in the way we didn’t imagine. I realise I have developed a side hustle based on my commitments to sustainability and downsizing but also my need to have income. I am finding stuff that I own and selling it off. It’s a very liberating feeling. Previously I have said how I enjoy selling and it is fascinating seeing which type of stuff does and doesn’t sell. It also feels like I am removing baggage from my life that is unnecessary – very liberating. 🙂

Plants – struggling with the cold like me

I have an affinity with my plants – we are both struggling with the cold and looking forward to Spring and Summer. The indoor plants are generally OK. It’s like they are hibernating though some are dying including the Christmas cactus that carried on growing several years after its purchase. 🙁

Dave reminds me that plants come and go – as does everything including people. The balcony plants are generally holding their own (particularly the olive tree) or have temporarily died off for winter. Though we’ve lost a couple to the cold including the spider plants I thought were indestructible. 🙁 Should have brought them indoors. No doubt both indoor and outdoor will bloom and grow as soon as the cold is over and Spring starts in a couple of months’ time. 🙂

cold silver pines

Friends

Polly

Really great to have a catch-up with someone I didn’t know last week. We imagine we make new friends via events, conferences, etc. But that ain’t going to happen at the moment. So it was really nice to have someone reach out to me on LinkedIn based largely on our shared previous connection with the mental health anti-stigma movement – Time to Change. And nice to have a phone chat rather than zoom which always feels to me like work.

Phyllis

He’s fine and recovering well from Covid. I still can’t get over how much better things are in Spain compared to here. No lockdown, rather sensible restrictions as they never let things get so bad there in terms of infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. Don’t believe the media and the crap of British exceptionalism. I really can imagine spending more time outside England in the future. Can’t imagine anything worse than being trapped on this silly little island for the rest of my days.

Patriotism is not obedience to government

The value of reaching out online

I have stated before how I have no truck with the idea that online friendships are somehow less valuable than face to face ones. And the pandemic has surely shown that to be true. Imagine how life would be if we couldn’t make contact with each other apart from via phonecalls and letters. That is what would have happened if the pandemic had come before now. Indeed, before the 1970s, there may not even have been landline phones for most ordinary people.

Thanks Vic 🙂

And last week, a great example of how ‘new media’ contact can make a huge difference. I had a text message from my old work colleague Vic. And it cheered me up no end. Unexpected and a booster to my low morale based on the issues in trying to get a new job/role. Don’t think an unexpected reaching out by phone, text, or on social media can’t make someone feel good in these difficult times. 🙂

St Valentine’s Day

I couldn’t end the blog without a reference to this. Me and my lovely partner Dave agreed not to go crazy on presents this year. Normally we would treat each other to experiential things such as restaurant meals. Obviously this year it’s hard to even imagine doing something like that. Basically expensive flowers and chocolates or nothing.

Imagine if they had been the same cards

So we decided on nothing – just a swap of cards which came in the same style envelopes but were different cards inside (thank goodness). Dave did make me a rainbow cake. It was a ready-to-make one and didn’t bear too much resemblance to the picture on the front of the box. But it tasted nice. 🙂

The Week Ahead

  • Carry on trying to imagine and create an alternative future
  • As the cold retreats, so I plan to attempt 2 slow jog-runs next week and either 2 or 4 longs walks
  • I imagine my weight will either stay the same or, hopefully, edge down a little
  • Got the regular fortnightly check-in with Job Centre Plus. Will carry on looking and applying for jobs – might hear about the current one I have applied for.
  • Continue with my language learning and boosting my tech skills. Have booked to attend a webinar on creating videos.
  • Regular weekly check-in with Phyllis
  • Aim is to complete at least one more book, two is a possibility – fingers crossed 🙂
  • More online art and culture, both TV and films
  • Flogging more stuff for money – and peace of mind I hadn’t imagined 🙂

And Finally…

Don't cling to a mistake - imagine something better

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